5 Interesting Facts About The Scott Peterson Case

California governor Gavin Newsom has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, which could mean that Death Row inmates — including Scott Peterson — are no longer facing certain death.

March 15, 2019
Mug shot of Scott Peterson [California Department of Corrections]

Photo by: Mug shot of Scott Peterson [California Department of Corrections]

Mug shot of Scott Peterson [California Department of Corrections]

By: Catherine Townsend

When 26-year-old Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant, disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002, the entire nation tuned in to discover the fate of the California mom to be — and to watch the suspicious behavior of her husband, Scott Peterson.

Laci’s body, and the remains of her unborn son, washed ashore in Richmond four months later.

In November 2004, Scott was convicted of the first-degree murder of Laci Peterson and second-degree murder of their unborn baby Connor Peterson. He’s currently behind bars in California’s San Quentin prison.

Here are five facts to know about the case:

1. Scott was an early suspect in the investigation due to his “strange behavior.”

Police immediately noticed that Scott was unable to remember key details, including the kind of bait he’d used when he claimed to have gone fishing that morning, according to Rolling Stone. Detectives observed that instead, Scott seemed to be concerned with one of his car doors being hit in the driveway or getting a receipt for a pink slipper and sunglasses given to the dog from the K9 unit to track Laci’s scent.

As the investigation dragged on, Scott’s behavior would become even more bizarre. When police pulled Scott over to arrest him, they found several suspicious items in his car, including a gun, sleeping pills, a knife, camping gear, a shovel, a fishing pole, over $15,000 in cash, his brother’s ID — and a dozen Viagra pills. One detective said that he believed Scott was trying to be “like James Bond.”

2. Scott had a secret mistress — and told her his wife was dead.

Scott and Laci’s marriage may have looked perfect on the surface, but investigators soon determined that Scott was leading a double life.

In November 2002, he was introduced to massage therapist and single mom Amber Frey by a friend. He began a relationship with Frey, and told her that his wife had died. Police would later theorize that Scott telling Frey he had a dead wife was his way of mentally processing — and premeditating — Laci’s murder.

Frey saw a newspaper article about Laci’s disappearance, called a tip line, and immediately began working with the police. She secretly recorded around 29 hours of audio with Scott. Through it all, Scott continued to lie: On December 30, he told Frey he was spending New Year’s Eve in Paris with friends — when he was actually at his missing wife’s candlelight vigil.

3. The dog became a key figure in the case.

The movements of McKenzie, the golden retriever Laci and Scott shared, became a big deal. McKenzie was found with her leash still on and covered in mud during Scott’s alleged “fishing trip,” according to In Touch Weekly.

The dog became a crucial part of the case since Scott alleged that his wife had shared her plans to take the dog for a walk on December 24, 2002 — the day she went missing. But Laci’s friends and family found Scott’s story suspicious due to the fact that they claimed Laci’s pregnancy had been making her extremely tired, and that she had been struggling with doing regular exercise and walking the dog.

Many of Scott’s supporters also believe McKenzie was a crucial component of the case, since according to Scott’s family, several people have claimed to have seen Laci walking the dog during the time Scott was on the boat.

At one point, Scott suggested hiring a “dog psychic.”

McKenzie was the only member of the family to get a happy ending: Laci’s friends said after the fact that the dog was adopted and doing well.

4. Scott may not be facing a death sentence – at least, for now.

California governor Gavin Newsom has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, which could mean that Death Row inmates, including Scott, are no longer facing certain death.

According to The Modesto Bee, the moratorium will be in place for the duration of Newsom’s time in office.

Scott’s sister-in-law called the decision “a relief,” but added that the decision may not affect their case since Scott’s execution date is not scheduled within the next eight years.

The written briefs in Scott’s appeals have been submitted, but the state Supreme Court has not yet scheduled oral arguments.

California has not executed anyone in over a decade due to a slew of legal challenges, but they could have resumed for more than 20 inmates who have exhausted their appeals.

5. His family, and some supporters, still insist that he is innocent.

Some of Scott Peterson’s family members are still on his side. His sister-in-law, Janey Peterson, told Dr. Phil that Scott is innocent, and challenged the police department’s timeline, CBS 13 reported. “He should not be sitting on Death Row with this many unanswered questions,” she said. “There’s no time for Scott to commit this crime. Scott has been wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and son.”

Janey claims that the police failed to follow up with 14 witnesses, including a mailman who she calls critical to the case. She stated that the mailman “signed an affidavit that said if Mackenzie [the dog] was inside or out in the yard, he would bark at the mailman. And on December 24th, the mailman came by, and Mackenzie was not on the property.”

Janey went on to say that she believed that Scott had been convicted in the media and had been the victim of biased reporting.

For more on this case, watch Investigation Discovery's Scott Peterson: An American Murder Mystery on ID GO now!

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